Ukrainians opt for EU membership, in particular the youth


 

Attitudes of Ukrainians Regarding EU Membership

 
There is a fairly stable public opinion in Ukraine in which a positive attitude towards Ukraine’s membership in the European Union dominates (See Table 1)
 
Table 1
Should Ukrainebecome a memberofthe EuropeanUnion?
 
 
June 2006
December 2008
December 2009
December 2011
Yes
43.7
43.3
42.8
46.0
No
35.9
34.6
32.9
32.9

Difficult to say

20.4
21.7
24.3
21.1
 

At the same time, there are deviations in people’s attitudes towards Ukraine’s membership in the EU depending on age and the regions they live in (See Table 2)

 
Table 2
 
Should Ukrainebecome a memberofthe EuropeanUnion?(December 2011)
 
 
Yes
No
Difficult to say

Attitudes of people in different regions

regarding Ukraine’s membership in the EU

West
74.2
22.4
3.3

Center and Northeast

49.7
22.4
27.9

South and Southeast

36.0
42.3
21.8

Donbas and Crimea

26.4
47.7
25.9
Attitudes ofdifferentagegroups
regarding Ukrainesmembershipinthe EU
18-29
58.0
21.9
20.4
30-54
46.3
32.2
21.4
55 and older
35.2
43.4
21.4
 

Noteworthy is that the opinions of youth in the age category of 18-29 living in the Donbas region and Crimea, where a negative attitude towards Ukraine’s membership in the EU prevails, do not differ from those of their colleagues that live in other parts of the country. Statistics show that 51% of the youth in the eastern part of the country are in favor of Ukraine’s membership in the EU, while only 22% are against it.

Besides that, the attitude towards EU membership to a large degree depends on the level of people’s awareness. Overall, only 61% of the population knows that the Ukrainian leadership is holding talks on the EU Association Agreement, while the remaining 39% are totally unaware of this fact. As it turns out, 52% of well-informed Ukrainians are in favor of membership in the EU, while 37% are not informed at all.

 
  1. Public opinion on the benefits Ukraine will gain from full membership in the EU.
 

Over the past four years Ukrainians understood quite well the benefits they would gain from joining the EU (See Table 3).

Among the main benefits are the opportunity of free travel abroad and access for youth to education in European universities. Ukrainians have great expectations that membership in the EU will improve the standard of living in their country, as was the case with other countries that became members of the EU.

Youth sees many more advantages in Ukraine’s membership in the EU. (See Table 4).

  
Table4
 
IfUkraineis accepted as afullmemberofthe EU, what benefits will it gain? (Number of responses was unlimited).
 

Possible benefits of Ukraine’s membership in the EU

December-2007
December-2011

Free movement of citizens and goods abroad

35.4
34.7

Improvement of people’s standards of living

33.0
28.0

Easier access for youth to education in European universities

19.0
24.3

Improvement in the supply of goods

8.8
16.1

Attaining civilized European standards of living  

17.7
16.1

Progress in democracy

13.0
13.7

Growth of the national economy

15.0
13.3

Improving the country’s image on the international arena

11.0
11.2

Receiving financial assistance

8.8
9.7

Reinforcement of national security and defense

6.7
7.5
Other
0.6
0.6
Ukraine will gain no benefits
15.7
27.7

Difficult to say

16.3
11.6
 
 
Table  5
 
IfUkrainebecomesafullmemberofthe EU, what benefits will it gain? (Number of responses was unlimited)
 

Possible benefits of Ukraine’s membership in the EU

18-29
30-54
55 and older
Free movement abroad
46.1
35.2
24.3
Improvement in people’s standards of living
32.6
27.1
25.7

Easier access for youth to education in European universities

31.8
24.1
18.3

Improvement in the supply of goods

21.9
15.6
12.0

Attaining civilized European standards of living    

22.9
16.2
10.3

Progress in democracy

18.2
12.7
11.6

Growth of the national economy

16.8
13.3
10.3

Improving the country’s image on the international arena

15.2
11.2
8.0

Receiving financial assistance

15.2
9.1
6.1

Reinforcement of national security and defense

7.2
7.6
7.6
Other
0.8
0.7
0.3
Ukraine will gain no benefits
19.5
27.2
35.3

Difficult to say

9.6
11.0
14.3
 
Publicopinionregarding thepossible negative repercussions of Ukraine’s membership in the EU.
 

Public opinion on the possible negative repercussions of Ukraine joining the EU has finally stabilized. This means an increase in the emigration of Ukrainians abroad, possible aggravation of relations with CIS countries, an influx of foreigners and the selling out of the country. Moreover, while the fear of an influx of foreigners into Ukraine has diminished over the past several years, the fear of aggravation of relations with CIS countries and the emigration of Ukrainians have, on the contrary, rapidly increased (See Table 5)

These changes in public opinion are completely understandable, given the position of Russia that recently tried hard to harm the Ukraine’s euro-integration efforts. Moreover negative internal processes in Ukraine strengthen the emigration mood of people, especially of the young ones.

 
Table5  
Whatcould bethenegativerepercussions ofUkrainesmembershipinthe EU? (Number of responses is unlimited)  
 
December-2007
December-2011

Emigration of Ukrainians abroad

26.7
31.1

Aggravation of relations with CIS countries 

19.8
22.5

Influx of foreigners, selling out the country

30.9
22.0
Unemployment
10.2
17.5

Decline in the standard of living

9.5
16.7

Spread of drug addiction, AIDS, etc.

17.1
14.0

Increase in social differentiation

10.8
12.3

Spread of western culture

11.2
11.2

Increase in the crime rate

9.9
10.1

Loss of state sovereignty

12.6
9.7
Other
2.0
0.9

There will be no negative consequences

13.2
16.3

Difficult to say

17.5
16.0
 

Ukrainians that live in the provinces are divided in their expectations of the negative repercussions of Ukraine’s membership in the EU. There are more negative expectations in the regions, where the attitude towards the membership of Ukraine in EU is worse – in Donbas and Crimea regions. They expect that the membership will cause the decline of the standard of living (39%, in Western regions only 7% expect that), unemployment (30%), influx of foreigners and clearance of country (27%). Moreover, Donbas and Crimea regions are the only ones that suggest the membership in EU will be a cause for the social differentiation (30%). There is only one essential fear in the Western region that the emigration of Ukrainians abroad will increase (32%), and 33% suggest that there will be no negative consequences for Ukraine from its membership in EU.

The young people are less afraid of any negative consequences, except for emigration problem, which is completely understandable given the numerous sociological studies of the emigration mood of youth.
 
  1. What prevents Ukraine the most from becoming the member of EU?
 

There has been a sufficient change in the Ukrainians’ idea of what prevents Ukraine the most from entering European Union. If in 2007 all these causes were suggested to be economic problems – the insufficient economic development of Ukraine and the low standard of living, now the importance of economic causes as the barrier has diminished in public opinion, but importance of other causes, like democracy problems, Ukrainian human rights’ problems and political problems (the position of western countries-EU members and the position of the Ukrainian leaders), grew sufficiently (See Table 6). The population of the Western region suggests the problem of Ukrainian leaders to be the main obstacle in entering the EU (40%).

 
Table6  

What are the main obstacles to Ukraine becoming a member of the EU? (Number of responses are unlimited)

General obstacles on Ukraine’s path to membership in the EU

June-2006
December-2011

Insufficient economic growth in Ukraine

51.8
34.5

Low standard of living in Ukraine

48.0
32.4

Problems with democracy and human rights in Ukraine

17.6
22.6

Positions of Western European countries that do not want Ukraine as an EU member

12.9
18.7

Position of Ukrainian leaders that do not want Ukraine to become a member of the EU

6.2
17.6

Close relations with Russia

11.0
10.8

Unwillingness of Ukrainian citizens

13.4
8.9

There are no obstacles to Ukraine entering the EU; it is ready for it

1.3
5.0

Ukraine does not need to become an EU member

17.2
14.5
Other
0.9

Difficult to say

11.0
11.2
 
 

A nationwide public opinion poll among the Ukrainian population was conducted in June 2006, December 2008, December 2009 and December 2011 by the Democratic Initiatives Foundation and the UkrainianSociologicalService.In each of the polls approximately 2,000 respondents from a sample that included the adult population of Ukraine (aged 18 and older), were surveyed based on the criteria of age, gender, education level, region of residence and type of settlement they live in. The sampling error does not exceed 2.2%.

 

The survey was financed by the UNITER project.